MANILA — In a historic decision, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted July 11 the Iceland’s resolution to look into the human rights situation in the Philippines.
During the 41st session of the UN HRC in Geneva, Switzerland, 18 countries voted in favor of the resolution while 14 voted against. Fifteen member-states abstained from voting.
The resolution urges the Philippine government to take all necessary measures to prevent extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, to carry out impartial investigations and to hold the perpetrators accountable in accordance with international norms and standards.
Human rights groups in the Philippines applauded the decision.
Karapatan said the resolution “is a significant step towards accountability.”
“This is not the end-all, be-all of our efforts to exact accountability, but we take it as a critical start. This is a decision on the side of justice,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Thousands have been killed in Duterte’s “war on drugs. Karapatan data revealed there have been 145 human rights defenders killed. Since 2001, Karapatan has lost 60 of their colleagues in the line of duty.
“This systematic and state-perpetrated butchering of the Filipino people has reached international concern, and the clamor for change will only echo louder from here on,” Palabay said.
Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said, “It is an initial benchmark victory of sorts in the long and arduous search for justice and brings a ray of hope that sooner or later the rampant extrajuducial killings will stop and that impunity will eventually cease to reign.”
Olalia noted that the resolution was passed amid the “the orchestrated efforts by the Philippine government to frustrate or defeat such salutary initiative.”
The decision came a few weeks before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address.
Palabay reiterated that the Philippines is a signatory to binding human rights treaties that allow for such mechanisms of investigation and accountability. “Duty-bearers who act contrary to their mandate of upholding human rights should expect to be made accountable,” Palabay said.